This Day in Geek History: May 12
George E. Clymer of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania begins manufacturing the first printing press invented in America, the Columbian Printing Press, which he invented in three years prior. The device is iron, unlike its predecessor, the Gutenberg press, and it operates by means of a system of compound levers where the Gutenberg used an iron screw. At approximately US$400, the new press cost about twice as much as a wooden press.
Ottmar Mergenthaler is granted a U.S. patent for his linotype machine. The device allows printers to set entire lines of lead type as “slugs” for printing, drastically simplifies justification, and it introduces keyboards to the typesetting process. It will first be employed by the New York Tribune in 1886, and it is estimated that the device reduces the labor required by previous printing presses by eighty-five percent.
The Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum is opened to the public in Chicago, Illinois. It is America’s first modern planetarium, and it was constructed by Max Adler, a former vice president of Sears, Roebuck & Co. at the cost of US$1 million. The the opening, a program using the Zeiss II star projector is presented by Professor Philip Fox, who resigned from the staff of Northwestern Observatory in order to take charge of the new facility. Adler was inspired to build the planetarium when he visited the world’s first planetarium at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany. Visit the official website of the Adler Planetarium.
Efficiency experts August Dvorak and William Dealey patent the Dvorak typewriter keyboard. (US No. 2,040,248) Dvorak and Dealey designed the typewriter in a manner which would increase a user’s typing speed by placing the keys of common letters on the home row and within reach of the dominant fingers of the hands.
BBC Television transmits the Coronation procession of King George VI to an audience of fifty thousand. It is the first official broadcast from outdoors, and the event marks the first use of a mobile television studio, known as an Outside Broadcast Van.
Dr. Vladimir Zworykin and R.R. Law of RCA give a demonstration of a large-screen television to the Institute of Radio Engineers in the U.S. The projector uses a Kinescope tube, the designers having recognized that a different type of tube is required for projection televisions than for domestic receivers. Visit the official RCA website.